Exploring multiple language learning from an existential perspective: an applied philosophical inquiry of self-cultivation and aspiration in language learning


Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The field of language learner (LLer) motivation and identity has been dominated by methodologies that rely on infrequent data collection measures, whether they be quantitative (e.g., surveys) or qualitative (e.g., interviews). Also, data from LLer studies tend to be experiences of researchers interacting with LLers rather than the data being the experiences of the LLers themselves. Therefore, we do not get direct data of identity, motivation, and learning experiences, but rather data of researchers’ experiences of others’ experiences. My study includes a two-month span of writing a beginning-of-study strong evaluation, followed by 368 days of multiple-times-daily data of language learning experiences that were then further analyzed to perceive the higher-order value affirmations revealed by the motivation, learning, and identity forming journeys of the a LLer of multiple languages over the course of 15.5 months throughout times of existential uncertainty. Relatedly, advances in the field have been made through psychometric approaches that tend to aggregate LLers into categories, while few whole-person philosophical approaches have been used. Furthermore, studies are sparse which concern learners learning multiple additional languages far from any community of speakers. This study attends to all of these research lacunae through providing an existential philosophical perspective and, concomitantly, providing and carrying out a rigorous research design. Through its explication of concepts, such as existential motivation, existential identities, strong evaluation, self-cultivation, aspiration, proleptic reasons, and a hybrid account of valuing, it provides hitherto lacking philosophical distinctions and philosophical applications to the fields of applied linguistics and philosophy of education, bringing conceptual, methodological, and empirical contributions to these fields.



Multilingualism, Aspiration, Self-cultivation, Identity, Motivation, Existentialism

Graduation Month



Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction Programs

Major Professor

F. Todd Goodson